With Canada Day just having passed us by, we have enjoyed the first long weekend of the summer. We certainly hope you enjoyed it!

And what was not to enjoy! A long weekend with warm, sunny weather can be a great excuse for heading up to a cottage or campsite with friends and family.  Of course, many of us would have enjoyed the consumption of some alcoholic beverages over this weekend, and may continue to do so on patios and cottages throughout the summer.

We have so many reasons to drink responsibly, the most obvious being the danger associated with drinking and driving. Even if you avoid stepping behind the wheel of a car, most of us are aware of many of the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption. However, most people are not as familiar with the damage alcohol can have on your oral health!

The first area of concern can be tooth decay. Alcohol, particularly wine, can have a high acidic content. Food and drink high in acid can erode the enamel of our teeth, leading to acid erosion. Given our tendency to allow wine to linger in our mouth as we consume it slowly, the acid in the wine is allowed more time to wear away at the enamel and, ultimately, the underlying structure of the tooth.

Obviously, the more frequently you drink, the greater the level of acid erosion one would expect to find. However, even moderate drinking can result in some degree of acid erosion.

The affects of alcohol do not stop with tooth decay. It is also associated with a higher incidence of periodontal disease. The same sugars and acids that can erode the enamel of the teeth can have a similar affect on the gums. The contents of many forms of alcohol can bind to the teeth and thus begin a breeding ground for harmful plaque. As plaque accumulates around the gum line, it can result in periodontal disease.

Of greatest concern is the link between alcohol and oral cancer. Alcohol is considered one of the greatest contributors to oral cancer, along with tobacco use. Given the tendency to only diagnose oral cancer at more advanced stages, it is a form of cancer with a high mortality rate.

It is important to point out that our own attitudes toward alcohol consumption can be one of our worst enemies when it comes to oral health. Without question, at Rideau Dental Centre, we would applaud your decision to not drive while intoxicated! We also agree that light alcohol consumption can have some positive health benefits from a cardiovascular standpoint.

However, particularly in the summer, that tendency to be more social can lead to more than light consumption of alcohol. And the reality is that it does not take much to have an adverse impact on the health of your teeth and gums.

By all means, enjoy the summer! It seems to pass by too quickly every year and we do not want to waste a minute of it. But remember, too much of a good thing in the form of alcohol can lead to some serious oral health issues. Limiting your alcohol intake is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon